Author Archives: Steve Pauls
In my last blog, I compared the idea of developing the confidence in learning how to drive against the confidence needed to become a successful teacher in a classroom. In the second post in this series, I would like us to explore the idea of teacher confidence a bit further.
Individual confidence is something that is a necessity and an essential component for a teacher to become effective in the classroom. Unfortunately, sometimes confidence is hard to come by in a continuing changing educational landscape. Changing a grade level, a new principal, new colleagues, or a new classroom all serve to keep an individual teacher “off balance” in their professional environment. Not surprisingly confidence is one of those intrinsic components that a teacher cannot fake, but he or she can develop with time and experience, given the right environment. Unfortunately, there is not a specific formula for making this happen. Just like our students, each teacher is unique and brings different talents, experiences, and a variety of subject-specific confidence levels to the classroom. Students are very sensitive to the level of confidence that a teacher exhibits and often draws their cue based on a teacher’s current attitude. To be effective in a classroom, a teacher needs to exude confidence externally but also needs to feel that confidence internally as well. The question then boils down to what is the best way to build confidence in a teacher over time?
There are many ways to begin to build confidence in a teacher, but one of the most important steps in building teacher confidence is to provide a mentor that can walk alongside someone new to the profession. We are “social beings,” no one more so than a teacher. A good mentor forms a close, long-term relationship with a new teacher and can provide a safe place to ask advice, provide feedback, and share best practices. A veteran teacher is more than a model of “good practice” but is someone that can share both successes and failures. For a new teacher, this is extremely important in building self-confidence. Learning to be a teacher is far from a “linear path” but has many unique twists and turns in the road to success. A good relationship with a mentor will not necessarily smooth over the bumpy road but will shine a light on the path and show a new teacher where to step and build their professional confidence over time. Hopefully, a dynamic mentorship program at a school will also “pay it forward” giving credence to the idea that good mentors build new mentors that can affect generations of teachers to come. While a teacher’s individual confidence can be constructed in isolation over time, it is far better to think of confidence building in education as an active social construct where we lean on each other to become better teachers together.
Several months ago, I wrote a blog post comparing the experience of a 16-year old learning how to drive to the experience of being a new teacher. In that post, I made the point that both are initially overwhelmed with the number of items that vie for their attention, whether it be a driver behind… Continue Reading
This past March I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the annual National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) conference in Atlanta, Georgia. While I was there I gave a talk related to my current work involving spatial ability and early childhood education, but more importantly, I was able to spend four days learning science… Continue Reading
In a previous blog post I talked about the importance of spatial learning in relationship to our interactions and perception of the surrounding world. Piaget outlined the importance of spatial perception in his 1948 book, The Child’s Conception of Space. In his book he discusses the importance of mental visualization to a child’s development as… Continue Reading
Spatial learning was defined by Harvard educator Howard Gardner in 1983 as one of nine individual “parts of the whole” in his theory of multiple intelligences. His ideas have somewhat fallen out of favor over the years mostly due to misinterpretation of his theory. Teachers have always tended to place each student in one of… Continue Reading
As an “aging” educator and a self-professed lifelong learner, I have spent a lot of my time thinking about both teaching and learning within the confinements of the educational classroom. Are the concepts of teaching and learning synonymous with each other? Or are they exclusive from one another? I have recently been part of several… Continue Reading
The idea of “play” as an educational structure in the classroom is a not new concept, but historically there has been significant international interest in research related to the benefits of student learning through play. Mitchel Resnick, a founder of the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, has just published a new book based around… Continue Reading
With teachers once again back in school, it is time to reflect specifically on what we do in the classroom. I have been thinking a lot about this topic during the summer. Part of the reason must have to do with the scholarly articles that I am reading, but also because I am blessed with… Continue Reading
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the researchers at the AIMS Center are currently taking part in a book study of Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela’s book, The Tree of Knowledge. This book is essentially a description of their theory of biology of cognition, which has had a profound effect on many different… Continue Reading
This fall semester, our research learning group at the AIMS Center is starting an interesting book study based on The Tree of Knowledge by Humberto Maturana. Up to this point, our group has read a variety of books by Jean Piaget, the father of constructivism, and concentrated on the related theme of Radical Constructivism as… Continue Reading